Panama Aspires to Become Chinese Gateway to LatAm

Panama Aspires to Become Chinese Gateway to LatAm  Panama Aspires to Become Chinese Gateway to LatAm

Located in the heart of the Americas, Panama aspires to become a gateway to Latin America for Chinese tourists, the country's tourism minister said.

"Due to its strategic location, Panama automatically becomes a gateway to the entire region," Gustavo Him also told Xinhua prior to flying to Beijing at the head of a 10-member delegation, including experts in destination marketing.

This week, the Central American country will hold its first promotional event ever in China to attract more travelers from the Asian nation, with which it established diplomatic ties in June 2017.

As part of new cooperation agreements, Air China, a major Chinese airline, is expected to begin operating direct flights to Panama twice a week, with a stopover in Houston in the US state of Texas, starting March.

Him said the future of tourism in Panama is going to be its opening up, not just to visit Panama, but to visit different countries.

The direct flight to Panama from China may just be the start.

"We really like the multi-destination aspect, and are in fact initiating discussions with different places to see how we can create this destination and offer different products," he said.

Potential tourism routes could be developed in conjunction with nearby countries such as Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba and Colombia.

The minister will discuss the idea during his trip with Chinese tourism operators.

Panama will feature as guest country at the International Tourism Fair on March 1-3 in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province in southern China.

"It's something new, since it's the first time we are going to present the country in China, and hopefully we will be well received," said Him. With a growing number of Chinese traveling abroad each year, China has become a coveted tourism market for destinations.

Him noted that Panama has a lot to offer visitors, from ecotourism to the unique Panama Canal and "shopping, given the excellent availability of brands in Panama at competitive prices".

As a small country located on the other side of the world, Panama is largely unfamiliar to the Chinese, he added.


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